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On a Soundstage All Along

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If the song you're making a video for ends with a dramatic fade of the instruments and you want a suitably dramatic ending, then you could try the good old tactic of having your lead singer bow their head while the lights dim and the camera pulls back to reveal - ah ha! - that the band was On a Soundstage All Along. Thus you reveal the artificiality of the music video and undermine the video's story with an unsettling note of self-awareness. Or something. Anyway, it looks totally awesome.

There seemed to be a glut of these around 2001-2005.

Subtrope of Reveal Shot and Nested Story Reveal. Compare Proscenium Reveal.


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     Alternative Metal  

  • Played in "Through Glass" by Stone Sour. Everything in the video (except the band members, but including a pool and a mansion) turns out to be a cardboard cutout, ending with the band on a soundstage.

     Alternative Rock  

  • The Presidents of the United States of America' "Dune Buggy" video seems to show the band playing the song acoustically around a nighttime beach campfire for a small group of friends, until an electrical spark in the final second provides a brief illumination.
  • Meta example: Beck's Satan Gave Me A Taco is a rambling country-ish story song where all sorts of crazy things happen...then the end of the song reveals that they were just in a rock video.
  • In Switchfoot's very first music video, "Chem 6A", the guys take a break from filming the video to walk off the set, peruse craft services, and get into a food fight.
  • The end of "Eddie Vedder" by Local H does this, in contrast to the beginning of the video which starts with the band onstage and working their way toward backstage, making it a mild Mind Screw.


  • Reba Mc Entire's "Does He Love You" pulls out near the end to reveal the set and director talking.


  • The video to E-type's "Angels Crying" is a cliché slasher movie with the lead male singer playing the Ax-Crazy to moderately disturbing effect. (Pop lyrics go from asinine to genuinely creepy fast when they're presented as the words of a lunatic.) At the end the camera pulls back to reveal a set, actors come out to congratulate each other, props are moved around, cue a hand grasping a piece of scenery.
  • Austra's "I Am Not Waiting" alternates between a psychedelic woman stripping down while walking through town, and singer Katie Stelmanis's disembodied head on a Greek column. At the end, the former is revealed as dancer Sheida Arbabian in a chroma keyed zentai suit, while Katie finishes the song against a green screen backdrop.

     Industrial Metal  


  • The video for Red Velvet's "Rookie" ends with the camera pulling out to reveal the group on a soundstage, having just completing the final scene of the music video.


  • Used in Michael Jackson's "Beat It", where the dancing gang members, led by Jackson, are drowned out by applause and cheering. Subtle, but still a decidedly weird feel.
  • This happens in Michael Jackson's "Black or White" after the morphing-faces sequence, but then we have the panther than wanders onto a city street set and turns into Michael...after all that, it turns out the whole thing is being watched by Bart Simpson.
    • Inverted in Jackson's "Liberian Girl", where dozens of celebrities are shown arriving at an elaborate film set and roaming around, asking where Michael is and when they'll get started filming his video. At the end, it's revealed that he's been there behind the camera all along, and their backstage wanderings are the video.
  • Done in Madonna's video for "Like a Prayer", but with a theatre stage instead of a soundstage.
    • Also in "Material Girl", in which the fact that the final shot completely reverses the narrative of the video is actually important.

     Pop Rock  

  • The video for Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" is entirely based around this trope. It starts off looking like it's one of those vids where it cuts between lip syncing and a one-dimensional love story—then about thirty seconds in the director steps in and tells them to do certain things differently, and for the rest of the video people are dismantling the soundstage.
    • There was a story that the clip's director did not tell the crew he was planning to do this. He simply left the camera running, and then edited all the footage himself. The reason the stars seem so natural during the "soundstage" scenes is that those are their real reactions.


  • This is the entire premise of The Futureheads' video for "The Beginning Of The Twist".

     Power Metal  

  • The video for DragonForce's "Operation Ground and Pound" includes a shot of lead singer ZP Theart shrugging in front of a Green Screen.

  • The Jean-Paul Goude video for "I've Seen That Face Before" by Grace Jones (a cover of instrumental "Libertango" by Astor Piazzola) ends with revealing that the whole song was performed on a roof of a tower block.


  • An early example is used in John Waite's "Change" video, where the suicidal woman on the ledge leaps to her death at the climax, only to have the camera pull back and reveal she's an actress whose "demise" was being captured by a film crew.
    • This same premise was used in Staind's Fred Durst-directed clip for "Just Go".
  • The long-form David Bowie video Jazzin' for Blue Jean has a Played for Laughs example (though on a street rather than a soundstage): Bowie suddenly breaks his uncool nice guy character to object to the story's ending, in which that character doesn't get the girl, as the other character he's playing does; the shot changes to reveal the crew filming the scene as he argues with the director over the issue.
  • Genesis's 'Illegal Alien', at the end, pans up from the 'dusty Mexican town' that the song takes place in and up to show the fact that ... well ...


  • This happens in the middle of the English Beat's video for "I Confess." The camera pulls away and reveals musicians playing as the band gets ready for another scene of the video. Then we switch back to the video and the soundstage part even seems to be a plot point of the video.

     Non-Music Examples  

  • The very first episode of Anthony Newley's surrealist comedy series The Strange World of Gurney Slade begins with the title character appearing in what looks like a conventional Sitcom. Then he walks away from the scene, leaving the perplexed cast and director behind as he heads off into the "real" world.
  • The Worker ran for four series, and not one but two series finales ended with the Worker discovering that he was really a comedian called Charlie Drake who was making a Sitcom.